I wrote this devotional for last week, but the day I was going to publish it, I got a call about my brother.
He’s been struggling with cancer, and now it isn’t looking so good.
Two days after, I woke up to another call that my toddler nephew has had a severe medical emergency, and we don’t know why.
I suppose it’s just more proof of why I need this weekly devotional as much as anyone.
I’ve been aching. Weeping like I haven’t for a decade. I hate even writing that sentence because I just wish it would all just go away. Poof. Just kidding! Everything’s fine. But it’s not fine. It’s awful.
Yet I look at Scripture and this is what it says.
“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” – Psalm 95:1-2
So. . . we sing.
Because heavy hearts are weighed further by heavy thoughts.
But joyful thanksgiving lifts even the darkest of spirits.
At times, in the throes of depression, all our singing of the glories of God may not trickle deep enough through to fog for us to feel the uplift we long for.
But if his wonders and beauty and grace and forgiveness and presence and faithfulness and good gifts (life, joy, love, peace, goodness) aren’t enough to sing about, what do we even believe in?
No, we are Christians because we believe God is infinitely good, whether we can feel him or not.
And our active choice to worship and give thanks to the Lord always has a real spiritual effect. If we do not feel the extent of it now, we trust and have come to know through experience that he will reward us for putting our trust in him despite this.
Still, in many cases, taking time to praise him with joyful songs, and to offer thanksgiving, is the resolution we long for, the salve to our pain, the comfort in our affliction.
Because it is not just the words we speak, but also the way that we speak them.
It is not just the songs that we sing, but the way that we pour our hearts through them.
It is not just the actions we choose, but also the motivation behind them.
“For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, ‘They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.’
Therefore I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’” – Psalm 95:10-11
He warns us here that if we consistently let our hearts go astray from this central focus on his glory, we will not know him, and will not experience his rest.
Yet in Psalm 127, we are also promised that:
“Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
We are his beloved children.
He gives us rest in him. He is the giver, and we are the one who accepts his gift.
So he invites us to take joy in praising him.
“As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?”
The time is now.
As you read this, you have time to bend your heart in thankful praise and worship toward the Lord who has given you and me all things.
Meet with him in your inward being, because he is calling you to himself!
Drink from his well, and be satisfied.
Praises, Lord! We praise you! With everything we have, we praise you. Help us to feel the intensity of your goodness. Be with us, fill us with your Spirit, comfort us, and thank you for your faithfulness, and for supplying our every need. Thank you for taking time to supply us, so that we are pushed to be patient in spending our lives with you. And thank you for your patience with us. Amen.
Sing a few songs in your personal prayer time. God knows I need to.